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78                    HISTORY OF PERSIA
protest of human understanding against the tyranny of
the orthodox teaching, and their tenets were in effect a
cry for freedom of action. They opposed the orthodox
doctrine of predestination, which represented the Deity
as punishing man for sins which he IKK! been preordained
to commit. They equally opposed the dogma which
made the Koran coeternal and coexistent with trod.
The Caliphs Mamun, Motasim, and Wathik embraced
the views of this seceding sect; but instead of allowing
freedom to the orthodox Moslems, they treated them
with fanatical intolerance, until persecution brought about
the inevitable reaction, and the political power of the
sect, which under these three Caliphs had been supreme,
ceased shortly after the accession of Mutawakkil, the
tenth in succession of the House of Abbas.
Motasim^ A,H, 218-227 (833 ^842),—Mamun before
his death issued a rescript by the terms of which his
brother Abu Ishak succeeded to the Caliphate under the
title of Motasim* His reign resembled that of his
brother, freedom of discussion being allowed except as
regards the dogmas of the Mutafcila sect> dissent from
which involved the penalty of death,
The Mamelukes and the Founding of Samtttni*—-At the
beginning of the reign of Haroun a Turkish general was
appointed to supreme military command or the nrmy
operating in the West. This was forty-eight years before
the accession of Motasim, and during that period
thousands of Mamelukes or <cowned" slaves had been
imported every year from Central Asia to fill the ranks
of the army and to supply the royal body-guard. Many
of these men won the Caliph's favour, and gradually they
displaced the Arabs, who returned to their deserts- The
evils of this system were apparent from the first, but
the more the Arabs resented the Caliph's foreign body-
guard, the more Motasim leaned on the Turks, until
in course of time they usurped all power and authority ;
ultimately they founded the Mameluke dynasty of
The legend runs that the Caliph when riding one day
in Baghdad was accosted by an old Arab Shaykh, who